Local Airmen Reunite with Loved Ones

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Jackson, Miss. Thursday was the day many local military families have been waiting for. 25 local soldiers returned home after a seven month mission in Southwest Asia.

Walking through the Jackson-Evers International Airport terminal was a moment seven months in the making for these members of Key Field's 186th Air Refueling Wing. Tech Sgt. Ben Kelly is glad to finally be able to hold his young daughter.

"It means everything," Kelly says. "That's all you think about is getting back to them the whole time you're gone."

Shanna Bufkin took care of 3 children and received her nursing degree while her husband was serving overseas. She says there were definitely some trying times, but is grateful this moment has finally come.

"Pretty emotional," Bufkin admits. "You know, ups and downs and you know, you try to look at the bright side of things. And make it through, day by day. You know, our biggest thing was every day done is one day closer. So, we had a little support group that we had formed between some of the wives."

Perhaps the most special moment was when servicemen Taylor McNamee met his 6-month old daughter Mackenzie for the very first time. McNamee told Newscenter 11 he was just too tired to talk on camera, but said it was hard to put into words how special this homecoming really is. One thing all these military families are looking forward to now is resuming a normal family life.

"Just spend time with them," Kelly adds. "Go from there."

"We're just ready to chill and grill," Bufkin jokes. "He wants his grill."

The best news of all is that 25 soldiers have returned home safely from Southwest Asia. The airmen were providing security for an air base in Southwest Asia.